In the 1986 a 31-mile long stretch of Illinois Gulf Central Railroad connecting Covington with Slidell was abandoned. The idea of developing the narrow right-of-way into a recreation trail for cyclists, hikers, runners, walkers and roller skaters with a side trail for equestrians, was first proposed by a grass roots group of trail advocates, S.T.A.R.T. (St. Tammany Area Rails to Trails.)
Kevin Davis, a St. Tammany Parish Police Juror in the early 1990s worked hard to convince the parish to buy the recently abandoned R.O.W saying it would provide a safe place for recreation in the rapidly growing parish. A grand opening of the first stretch of Trace, 8.6 miles connecting Abita Springs with highway U.S. 190, was held September 17, 1994.
With the completion of a bridge across Bayou Lacombe, several years ago, the Trace is now substantially complete at 27.5 miles. The Trace runs east and west from downtown Covington to a dead end at Neslo Rd. just west of Slidell. To bring to Trace from Neslo Rd. to Heritage Park in Slidell, a route of suburban roads and side paths are being considered.
Voters to the RTC site chose the Trace over two other finalists. In the past Hall o Fame inductees were chosen by RTC staff.
Qualities such as outstanding scenic value, amenities and historical significance are considered. The Tammany Trace, with a total of 500 acres of greenspace of its own passes through a large state park and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife preserve. Towns along the way, Covington, Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell offer a variety food and beverage outlets near the Trace. RTC officials said, in declaring the Tammany Trace in the Hall of Fame that the north shore trail, about 30 air miles north of New Orleans (LA) attracts over 300,000 visitors annually, an average of 821 a day!
Want to visit another RTC Hall of Fame Winner near by? The Longleaf Trace, running about 42-miles one way from Hattiesburg northwest to Prentiss, is a beautiful ride. Hattiesburg, MS is about a two-hour drive northeast from New Orleans. The Longleaf Trace, opened Labor Day 2000 and was named as a RTC Hall of Fame Trail in 2010.
For more information about both the Tammany Trace and the Longleaf Trace, search this blog.